There’s absolutely nothing wrong with buying a pre-owned luxury handbag. In fact, the pre-owned luxury market is growing rapidly, with fashion fans everywhere realizing that purchasing pre-owned items allows you to build your luxury collection faster and more affordably, while still enjoying the same amazing quality and brands you know and love. 

But, as is the case when buying anything pre-owned, when shopping for a pre-loved luxury handbag, you want to take just a few precautions. The wrong mistake can mean a less than stellar shopping experience. 

Here are our top tips for buying a pre-owned luxury handbag. 

1. Take your time and shop around.

You might be tempted to jump on the first deal you see — and that’s understandable. However, don’t rush into a bad deal. You want to take your time to shop around and research the luxury handbags that are available to you.

Look at your options across the board, not just your options from one seller. Compare and contrast bag brands, prices and conditions. Even if a bag is well within your price range, you want to ensure you’re not wasting money on a fake or potentially damaged product.

2. Only buy from reputable sellers.

On that note, to best avoid fake and potentially damaged luxury items, you want to only work with reputable sellers. This is definitely not the time to go shopping around on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. Look to businesses that have built a reputation for selling high-quality pre-owned luxury fashion. 

An easy way to check whether or not a business or seller is reputable? Just look at the reviews. What are other buyers saying about the seller? 

And don’t just check the reviews on the seller’s website (because, of course, they’re only going to post the best of the best reviews). Look elsewhere for reviews and buyer feedback, such as on social media and fashion blogs. Additionally, look at the sellers’ authentication and return policies. Both should be favorable toward you, the buyer, rather than the seller. 

Buying from a reputable seller and business over an individual that you find on some random site can save you a world of headaches. 

3. Look at retail prices.

But even after you’ve checked your seller’s reputation and you’ve shopped around for a bag you love, you still want to check the retail prices for the bag you’re buying. Could you possibly purchase it brand-new somewhere else? If so, why not buy it brand new? The whole point of purchasing luxury items that are pre-owned is to save a bit of cash, but if you’re not actually saving that cash, why bother?

Look to popular retailers and high-end department stores. You might even find a bag you love on sale, brand new, that’s more affordable than the pre-owned luxury bag that you had your eye on. 

4. Understand how bag prices change on the resell market.

If you’re going into the pre-owned shopping process expecting to see mammoth discounts on bags from in-demand brands, you might experience a little sticker shock at first. Bags from brands like Louis Vuitton and Chanel go at discounted prices, sure — but the discounts aren’t that steep. That’s because these bags hold their value extremely well and there’s a huge market ready and waiting to buy them. 

You may also see higher prices (even higher than retail!) on bags that were limited edition or that just aren’t available in store anymore. On the flip side of this, you may find that, if you’re buying from an individual seller, some sellers will be willing to take counter-offers. If you see a listed price that might not line up with what you want to pay for a particular bag, there’s certainly no harm in asking the seller for a lower fee. 

5. Be realistic about what you’re buying.

As we said, buying a pre-owned designer bag can absolutely be the best option for those shopping on a luxury budget, and more and more shoppers are turning to pre-owned retailers for their luxury goods. However, it’s important to realize what buying a pre-owned bag means. You might notice a little wear and tear on the bag. There might be signs of aging on a leather bag, or a bit of tarnish on some of the metal hardware, depending on how the bag was cared for. None of this is necessarily off-putting, but it is worth realizing ahead of your purchase. 

(And to keep your luxury handbag looking as new as possible, no matter how old it might be, check out our guide to designer handbag care and cleaning). 

6. Ask about a waiting list.

Since some bags are incredibly popular, especially in the pre-owned market, you might find that a seller is offering a waiting list. If you’re after a particularly popular or in-demand bag, such as a Birkin, or a bag that isn’t often resold, you’ll want to take your chances on that waiting list, to make sure you’re able to snag that bag as soon as you can. 

What about after you make your purchase?

But your work’s not finished even after that beautiful bag arrives on your doorstep. You’ll want to carefully check every inch of your bag to ensure that you received exactly what you paid for. If you notice something’s “off,” such as a certain authenticator missing from the bag, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask the seller about it. 

Even when buying from a reputable seller, it’s still a good idea to know the indicators of a fake designer bag. Learn a brand’s individual authenticators, such as the brand name or “Made in France.” Look for odd proportions or uneven stitching. Carefully examine the most intricate pattern details, so you can spot any deviations. Stand the bag up on its own, empty; if the bags’ sides fall in on themselves, it’s a potential indicator that the bag is not authentic. 

You’ll also want to keep all of the documentation regarding your purchase, as well as the bag’s authenticity, on file, somewhere safe and easy to access in your home (ask the seller to provide any and all purchase documentation that they may have on file, too). That way, if you decide to sell the bag later (and maybe use the profits to purchase another new bag!) you have all of that information handy and readily available. 

Purchase the Perfect Pre-Owned Designer Bag for Your Wardrobe 

Whatever your style, whatever your reason for purchasing a pre-owned designer bag (and there are plenty of good ones!), make sure to follow our above tips for making the perfect purchase. You’ll thank yourself later, as you start building a growing collecting of high-end, luxurious, authentic handbags from top designers, all at a fraction of the retail cost. 

Want to learn more? Keep an eye out for our upcoming and new pre-owned designer handbag collection. 

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